Exploring the World of NYC Coffee Shops

They say that New York never sleeps, and this might as well be totally the case given that every street is lined with at least two artisan over-priced small scale coffee shops, a Starbucks and a Dunkin’. Finding caffeine in the Big Apple is no challenge. In my two months there this summer, I have attempted to try as many independent cafes (although I will never give up my tired and true Starbucks chai) as I could during my commute, lunch breaks and lazy Sunday mornings. There is a whole world out there of coffee ambiances and gourmet creations to explore in the mega city.

Bluestone Lane: An Australian offshoot, Bluestone is located all over the city and specializes in gourmet drinks and “toasties” which are perfect for a quick light lunch. The locations tend to be smaller, making it more of a grab and go type of place. *Over a dozen locations all over the city.

Chacha Matcha: My favorite New York cafe, Chacha Matcha quickly became my go-to beverage pick-me-up everyday on my commute to work. As the name suggests, they specialize in matcha green tea, but create funky takes on the classic matcha latte with matcha chais, turmeric lattes and matcha lemonades. They also have a delicious assortment of matcha flavored pastries and chilled breakfast items. The crowd, along with the decor, is trendy and instagram obsessed. *Locations in Noho, Nomad, and Nolita.

Birch Coffee: Birch coffee has one of the best chais I have ever tasted. A bit of a unique place, they discourage technology by not having wifi or any outlets. Instead, they have a whole wall of books for customers to cozy up to and little conversation starter cards that attempt to create a hospitable and friendly unplugged atmosphere. Ideal for non-electronic studying! *10 locations across the city.

Think Coffee: A classy and spacious cafe, Think Coffee is a place a study. Standard coffee menu with breakfast and sandwiches, the environment at Think is extremely pleasant. They have outlets at every table, plush leather seats and play a calming mix of classical music which makes you even want to study. In a crazy city like New York, Think Coffee offers a reprieve from all the hustle and bustle outside. *About 8 locations across the city.

Joe’s Coffee: Joe’s has been a New York favorite for a while serving up a quality cup of “Joe” to many neighborhoods for years. They are simple coffee counter stores, but simple does the trick. If you need a quick coffee on the go, Joe’s is the place to go. *Over a dozen locations throughout New York.

Gregory’s Coffee: Another favorite, Gregory’s coffee is kind of like a local Starbucks. They have a large menu of drink options, food, and juices in there spacious cafes. What makes Gregory’s great is that they have a lot of vegan and gluten free food and drinks, making it a place for everyone. *23 locations in Manhattan.

Ralph’s Coffee: The Ralph Lauren Corporation, already pioneers in creating a truly immersive shopping experience, recently opened Ralph’s Coffee Shop inside select offshoot stores. I visited one inside the Flatiron Club Monaco and was delighted to get a delicious iced mocha within the stylish green tiled walls of the coffee outpost and the pleasantly light and airy atmosphere of the store. The coffee is all hand crafted, and the store is perfect for pictures. *Located at the Flatiron Club Monaco, Rockefeller Center, and the Upper East Side Ralph Lauren.

Maman: Maman is a favorite of the stylish Instagram crowd and it’s easy to see why. Besides having great coffee, a decadent lavender hot chocolate drink, and cute pastries, the cafe makes you feel as though you have been transported to the South of France with its cute decor and blue and white color scheme. The cups and plates are all super cute and photogenic too! *Locations in Soho, Tribeca, Nomad and Chelsea.

Citizens Of (Gramercy, Chelsea): While more of a popular brunch place, the trendy cafe has a barista bar serving up an array of exceptional drinks. The Australian styled spot has a refreshingly light interior that feels especially cool on a hot summer day. Come for the avocado toast and stay for the dirty chai (it’s seriously one of the best I’ve had). *Locations in Gramercy and Chelsea.

Everywhere to Shop in NYC

As the fashion capital of America and a worldwide fashion hub, New York City is overflowing with a crazy range of flagship shops, small boutiques and mega department stores. This summer, I have had the opportunity to explore many different shopping areas. Here are some of my favorite neighborhoods and streets ideal for any fashion lover or avid shopper.

Soho

Soho is the designated “cool” tourist neighborhood with every imaginable “cool” store you can think of.  While it might be busy, the area is vibrant and has some great destination stores such as Reformation, Opening Ceremony, Off-White, etc.  There are also a lot of pop-up stores and concept places such as the Glossier Flagship.  For window shopping, nearly every major design house has a location around Soho.

Flatiron District

The area around the Flatiron building and Madison Square Park has a lot of major flagships found inside cool Gilded Age era Neo-classical style buildings lining the avenues and streets.  Many mid-range stores such as Club Monaco, J Crew, Madewell, Anthropology, Intermix, Tory Burch and Brooks Brothers have huge flagships in this area.  The crowds are less around this area too which is a huge plus. 

Upper West Side

The Upper West Side area around Lincoln Center and along Central Park boasts an array of slightly trendier and more reasonably priced stores than its east side counterpart.  European favorites such as Joie and Maje have large flagships here, along with popular American jean companies Paige and AG.  The area is also super cute and quiet.  

Chelsea

Around the High Line are some of the nicest streets in the city.  They are lined with luxury apartment buildings and designer stores.  A lot of New York contemporary designers such as Rebecca Taylor, Alice and Olivia and DVF have their flagships in this area, and Chelsea market is full of all sorts of local goodies and artisan crafts.  Seek out bargains, window shop and admire the street art in the popular urban revival neighborhood.

Hudson Yards

The newest and coolest complex of Manhattan, Hudson Yards’ epicenter includes a giant 5 level luxury mall that is unlike any mall I have ever been to.  The stores range from high-end designer shops to fast fashion places like Zara and popular places like Aritzia and Lululemon.  What’s great is that the ac is blowing and the cool marble interior makes for a fun indoor experience on a hot summer day.  The 5th floor holds New York’s first and only Neiman Marcus.  They give it their all to give shoppers a modern retail experience.  

 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue

Throughout Midtown, 5th Avenue to Lex Ave are for the most part very touristy and not very worthwhile in terms of shops.  However, the general area that borders central park is home to many of New York’s iconic department stores.  Window shop at the massive Bergdorf Goodman, experience the newly reopened accessories and shoe departments at Saks, and take advantage of the many boutique designers being featured at Bloomingdales.  Walk further uptown to Barney’s which is truly an experience for any fashion fan and admire the window displays of designer flagships along Madison Ave. 

Everything I Ate at Smorgasburg

Back for a new post on my New York adventures!  This time around, it seems obligatory to dedicate a whole post to Smorgasburg, otherwise known as the ultimate foodie destination.  For those of you who do not know, Smorgasburg is a giant food festival that takes place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn every weekend in the summer.  Many famous outrageous food creations have come out or started at Smorgasburg and you have certainly seen pictures of some of their craziest frankenfoods on instagram.  Foods such as the Ramen Burger, the Spaghetti Donut, the Raindrop Cake and Big Mozz mozzarella sticks were all introduced at Smorgasburg. 

With nearly 100 different vendors at Smorgasburg, it might be just a tad hard to figure out what to get.  I recommend spending some time walking around and to just soak it all in.  It is amazing to see everyone come together and experience a common love for eating and food all in one small outdoor space.  Once you gather your bearings, it helps to plan it all out.  It also helps to know that you should be splitting everything, or you might explode from overeating! Here is everything I tried… although there was so much more.

Spaghetti Donut (Marinara sauce):  This crazy concept is new this year and is getting a ton of attention.  Everyone loves pasta and everyone loves donuts, so why not put these too popular carbs together?  While it might seem gross, the donut is pretty much just donut shaped slightly dried out pasta that is lightly fried to hold the shape.  Personally, I’m not a huge red sauce pasta fan, so I felt like it was underwhelming.  Others love it, however, and this unique food combo is definitely worth a try.  

Fluffy Pancakes (Blueberry cheesecake): Oh my god, these were heaven.  The airy souffléd pancakes were hands down the best pancakes I have ever tasted.  While the pancakes alone are a reason to get them, the different flavors which include blueberry cheesecake and creme brulée make the pancakes extra special and a perfect start to your Smorgasburg experience.  

Ramen Burger:  There was a ton of hype surrounding the Ramen Burger when it first came out a few years ago.  While the combo might seem random, the salty flavor-filled ramen pairs amazingly with the taste of the burger, out doing any bun while looking fabulous for that insta-feed.  

Chicken and Waffle (Buffalo Chicken Bites):  Someone, a genius perhaps, decided that chicken and waffles can easily become chicken in a picturesque waffle cone.  Easy to eat and oh-so delicious, the buffalo chicken bites inside the cone with a drizzle of creamy blue cheese dressing were the perfect portable festival food.  Coming from a buffalo fanatic, these were very worthwhile!

Prickly Pear Cactus Juice:  I have no idea what prickly pear cactus is but I do know that it makes for a vibrantly beautiful pink juice.  While the taste isn’t too special, the color of the juice is something to brag about.  Maybe not the best juice of all the many juices at the fair, but it’s refreshing and pretty!

Truffle Fries:  Sometimes a classic hits the spot.  The truffle fries from the gourmet fry station might be a tad basic, but they are simply delicious and make for the perfect side to any of the outrageous entree options at Smogasburg.  

Shaved Ice (Matcha):  Definitely my favorite food that I tried at the festival, this trendy dessert is the ultimate treat on a warm sunny summer day.  Think of it as fancy adult snow cone, but with two layers of flavored coconut cream, rice cereal, and deep natural coloring.  The matcha flavor was to die-for and tasted like a refreshingly upgraded Starbucks green-tea frappuccino. 

Coxinhas (Cheese and Dulce di Leche):  Smorgasburg is all about trying new foods from different places.  I decided to try coxinhas which is a kind of fritter from Brazil.  The cheese filled coxinhas was similar to a very melted mozzarella stick. They paired extremely well with the aioli sauce that goes with them.  The Dulce di Leche was like a bite of caramel heaven.  If the line for Big Mozz is too long, these make for a well worth it alternative. 

Summer in the City

So I might have completely neglected blogging the last couple of months, but being a busy college student doesn’t always lend itself to an abundance of free time. A lot has happened since I last wrote. I managed to somehow survive a brutal finals period, pack up all of my stuff, move out, and work and prepare at home for a summer move to New York City. I am now finally settled in the city after a whirlwind first two weeks. So far, it has been an amazing experience, and I am absolutely loving the thrill and the freedom of living in the middle of a giant metropolis. I could write endlessly about everything that I have done so far, but I’ll leave that up to future blog posts that I’m anxiously waiting to post. Anyways, what am I doing and how am I living in this wild fast-paced city?

I admit that I was a little apprehensive about moving by myself to a large city. This is the first time I have lived in a city and it’s definitely a far cry from the isolated and sheltered rural college that I attend in Upstate New York. Here, I have to fend for myself. No more ordering everything on Amazon and marching myself 5 times a day to the unlimited dining hall. I even have to figure out “cooking” my meals which, although I’m a huge foodie, is definitely not my forte. Trying to prepare meals has probably been my biggest struggle, and I have resorted to a lot of dinners full of energy bars and bananas (I have some work to do). I’m also having to figure out transportation methods which is interesting enough since New York has a ton of options, none of which are completely ideal (rural college=clueless Uber newbie here). I seriously love walking around though, and my daily walks to and from work is actually quite invigorating. New Yorkers are intent on their commutes and they walk with such purpose which I can totally embrace and go along with. It’s fast paced and lively, giving me energy for my busy workday.

Talk about distractions, walking around is the worst for my wallet (and tight budget). There are so many great little cafes and restaurants to grab quicks meals or coffee. They all somehow seem much more appealing than my spinach and avocado “salad” waiting for me at home. Good food is so dangerous, please take caution. Everyday, I see somewhere new and make a mental note to try it out, pushing back my homemade oats further down my meal prep timeline. What might be even more exciting and even more dangerous are the sheer number of amazing stores dotting the whole city. Just on my commuting walk alone, I have probably ventured into 5 different stores and I have started a list in my head of all the shopping districts that I need to visit for my soul and not for my wallet’s sanity. My internship’s in fashion, so it’s all in the name of work, right?

Work itself is amazingly interesting and fun. Even being an intern and doing interning things is still somehow exciting. The environment is so creative and lively and the days go by quick. I feel so professional which sounds cheesy, but I get a rush when I walk into the elevator with all these fashion bigwigs at the beginning of each day. While the city can be overwhelming, it means that there is nonstop excitement, leaving me busy and curious. I could write on and on, but I’ll leave that up to next week. Yesterday, I went the Smorgasburg… so stay tuned!

Where I Write

Throughout my blogging journey, I realize that I’ve probably mentioned my love for quaint coffee shops quite a bit. I’m not shy to admit my very basic girl tendencies which are sort of ironic because I don’t even like the taste of coffee. I love the idea of a calm peaceful space dedicated to quality drinks. Small coffee shops are always a joy and I find that there is no other space where I can be at my productive peak. I go when I need to study, socialize, write and experience food and drink in such a pure and wholesome form. Given this love, I figured I’d share where it is that I settle down with a chai latte and write to my hearts content.

Whether it be for studying or blogging, I find that quaint coffee shops offer the perfect little escape from the world around me. There, I can fully focus on the task ahead while relaxing and enjoying my surroundings. Being in college, the library and other spots on campus can often be high stress suffocating environments that distract me from doing my best work. That is why I escape. I leave to relax, take a few deep breaths and get to completing what seems to be an always growing pile of work.

At home: Penny’s Coffee (Linden Hills, Minneapolis)

While I still stand loyal to my multiple local Starbucks, I was super excited when Penny’s Linden Hills opened last spring since I really wanted a perfect work space coffee shop near me. Their drinks are incredibly flavorful and unique with specials such as the pink spicy peppermint latte (perfect for the ‘gram). They serve up a menu of gourmet crêpes and sandwiches, along with breakfast items and pastries. I will literally just come for their avocado toast which is probably the best I’ve ever had. They just recently started baking their own pastries which is giving me major FOMO since I’m back at school.

At school: Rye Berry Cafe (Hamilton, NY)

I’m currently sitting at Rye Berry right now, writing this, and eating their amazing homemade extra-strained yogurt which is definitely my ideal way of spending a Tuesday morning. Everything is made fresh in-house every morning from the coffee and tea syrups to all of the breads and baked goods. I think that you seriously cannot go wrong with any of Rye Berry’s breakfast or lunch options which range from a daily quiche special to biscuit sandwiches and cinnamon buns. They had a mean pumpkin spice latte this fall which made me actually enjoy the very sweetened taste of coffee.

At school part 2: Fojo Beans (Hamilton, NY)

The Fojo Beans cafe just recently opened after having a local gourmet coffee business for years. The shop specializes in their special blends and fancy teas while selling a changing menu of baked goods from local CNY bakeries. They have a variety of grab and go items such as rice puddings and overnight oats which are delicious and (fairly) healthy. The atmosphere is very relaxed and casual making it a great space to get work done and hang with friends. It is great that Hamilton is expanding their cafe culture with another new place to come in and study.

Go Good Uncle!

Meet Good Uncle, the new food delivery start-up taking select colleges on the east coast by storm.   The company is more generous than any friendly relative, as they will become your new best friend- a bff that specializes in simply bringing you food, on demand.  Good Uncle started at Syracuse by two ambitious students who were determined on elevating the college dining scene.  Just this year, they launched on 5 different college campus while being headquartered in New York City.  The idea is similar to Uber Eats, but with no delivery fee since the food is all created by Good Uncle through their Michelin starred food mastermind, Erik Battes.  They then transport it to one of their many handy delivery spots around the campuses with their super cool fancy food truck-like trucks.  Magical- right?

IMG_7998

Currently, Good Uncle is only at Colgate, Syracuse, Cornell, Lehigh and UMaryland, but they hope to expand in the near future (that future is very near given their popularity).  While you might not be at one of those schools, or might not even be in school, Good Uncle could come to you, and you will then, thanks to me, be in the know (ahead of the game, on the next big thing!).  Their food is simply delicious, and definitely beats most food found in college dining halls.  It ranges from very healthy options of salad and rice bowls to hangover-cure like foods such as the BBQ plater and the bacon, egg, and cheese brunch sandwich.  There’s a wide range which makes it easy for everyone to find something to suit their every desire.  Their menu changes monthly, ensuring that nobody gets tired of their extensive menu.  With that absent delivery fee, the prices are very reasonable for “to-go”-like food.  For a college student’s budget, it is cheaper than eating out at most places with dinners ranging from 7-12 dollars.

So you go to Colgate or any of the other schools that have Good Uncle?  Here is what I most recommend.

Tofu and Mushroom Bowl with the Mediterranean Fresh Fix Toppings:

Healthy and trendy, you can’t go wrong with one of Good Uncle’s bowls.  The tofu bowl is great for vegetarians and vegans since good tofu is often hard to come by in college.  It’s all on a bed of quinoa, and you have the choice of what kind of toppings/salad you want with the bowl.  I’m obsessed with the Mediterranean toppings which I get for both the tofu and the chicken bowl.  It’s the classic fixings of hummus, tzatziki, pita chips, feta, cucumber and tomato, along with a serving of arugula salad.

IMG_8322

Pesto Parmasan Pasta:

Good Uncle really nails the pasta thing which we will all be thankful for when winter comes around (Aka comfort food season).  The pesto pasta really hits the spot since they throw in copious amounts of sauce along with a generous serving of melted parmesan cheese.  Tasty, yes, and comforting!

IMG_8349

Seasonal Açai Bowl:

Ahh the food of the moment (and of instagram), Good Uncle makes it easy to keep up with the trends.  Who wouldn’t want an açai bowl delivered on demand?  It’s simple, but delicious and makes for a great addition to brunch.  The vividly purple base is topped with fruit and granola, and has shredded coconut and almonds mixed into it.  Unfortunately, the açai bowl is only available on weekends, but that might be for the best (we probably don’t need an açai bowl everyday!).

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich:

A good buffalo chicken sandwich for me is the ultimate guilty pleasure, and Good Uncle doesn’t let me down with their October special.  The chicken is topped with oozy buffalo cheddar cheese and a blue cheese dressing.  The bun is a nice soft brioche bun that is sweet enough to pair perfectly with the spicy chicken.

IMG_8642

 

 

Grilled Chicken Tenders:

Probably Good Uncle’s smartest creation, these chicken tenders are both extremely tasty and healthy.  Instead of being deep fried, the chicken is seasoned in a mix of flavorful herbs and grilled to perfection, ready to be eaten with a delicious dipping sauce.  The sauces are a highlight since they have a variety to choose from, each unique and amazing.  I recommend getting a couple to dunk the chicken into although the chicken is good enough on its own.

IMG_8470

To read and find out more about Good Uncle, visit my article for Spoon University here!

I’m Back!

Hello readers (who probably forgot about me), and non readers who I want to become readers!  I apologize for not writing these last months as I’ve been extremely busy with graduation, senior obligations, college decisions, and travel.  Everything has been a ton of fun, however, and I have now finally found time to share my fun with you!

A lot has been going on in my life recently including 2 big international trips, and myself preparing to move to New York for school.  With summer coming to an end, I’m hoping to share the adventures that I’ve had, and will have before I head out to school.  I’m trying to revamp the blog so that it’s  more of a overall lifestyle blog with me sharing tips and wisdom from my life centered around my favorites hobbies (food, travel, and fashion).

Then, once I move out to New York (and by the way, NY means small college town living, not city that never sleeps), I will focus on trying to live a fulfilled, adventurous, and classy college life.  I will share tidbits on how I’m doing that, in addition to travel.  My college’s location is a tad isolation from city life, but I believe that I’m going to have easy access to cities up and down the east coast, in addition to the atlantic shore and charming small town life.  I cannot wait to hopefully expand this blog while focusing on a more college student targeted audience!

I will try to post more content in the next couple of days, as I attempt to revamp everything!

Thank you, Addie ❤